Framed 2

Mac|Life - - APP LIFE - Joseph Leray

Slip-slip-slid­ing away $4.99 From Love­shack, love­shack­en­ter­tain­ Made for iPhone, iPad Needs iOS 9.0 or later Framed 2, like its 2014 pre­de­ces­sor, is an elab­o­rate pun. Its puz­zles re­quire re­ar­rang­ing comic book pan­els to cre­ate a path through a stylishly ren­dered Hong Kong; its scarper­ing pro­tag­o­nist has been set up to take the fall for a mur­der he didn’t com­mit.

Most of the game’s puz­zles are about nav­i­ga­tion. One early test, for ex­am­ple, asks play­ers to re­con­fig­ure a se­ries of board­walks to avoid both a pa­trolling po­lice­man and a pur­su­ing at­tack dog – one panel out of place will of­ten lead to cap­ture – or worse. You may also need to re­order a set of nar­row al­leys, or un­tan­gle a maze of air ducts.

Over time, more com­plex ideas are lay­ered into Framed’s cen­tral con­ceit: some frames can be ro­tated, for ex­am­ple, or used sev­eral times in one scene. Part of the trick is learn­ing what our hero courier is ca­pa­ble of and how to take ad­van­tage – he’s not shy about knocking a cop out cold if given the chance, and he’ll climb or de­scend any lad­der he comes across. In ef­fect, the de­vel­oper Love­shack asks its au­di­ence to play game de­vel­oper, putting de­lib­er­ately jig­sawed lev­els back to­gether.

Thank­fully, Framed 2 does a bet­ter job than the orig­i­nal of com­mu­ni­cat­ing each puz­zle’s goals and strat­egy. En­trance and exit pan­els of each level are now fixed in place – this keeps you from swap­ping tiles aim­lessly and al­lows for more elab­o­rate puz­zles as a re­sult. Where the first game’s con­cepts felt half-baked, the fol­low-up is ro­bust and well re­al­ized.

For a game that toys so ef­fec­tively with comic book con­ven­tions, Framed 2 is nar­ra­tively sparse. There’s no dia­log or ex­po­si­tion, leav­ing stylish de­sign, fluid an­i­ma­tion, and rec­og­niz­able noir archetypes to set the scene while puz­zles push the ac­tion for­ward. Framed 2 does enough to es­tab­lish its pre­quel re­la­tion­ship to the orig­i­nal with­out di­lut­ing its fo­cus on tight, clever puz­zles. THE BOT­TOM LINE. Framed 2 takes the orig­i­nal’s con­cept and im­proves on it in ev­ery mean­ing­ful way.

Ex­it­ing through the green door seems sim­ple enough, but you’ll need all the tools at your dis­posal to get there.

It’s the end of an­other hon­est day’s work in Hong Kong.

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